GREENVILLE — Established in 2004, the Darke County Historical Society’s Heritage Award was created to recognize outstanding citizens or organizations for their distinguished contributions or actions of unusual excellence that help connect people to Darke County’s past.
Clay Johnson, Ph.D., CEO of the Garst Museum, said, “For those familiar with the county’s history, the area is rich in its history and traditions and its significance touches so many in the community. The Darke County Historical Society (DCHS) recognizes this importance, and feels its responsibility is to honor those that join in its mission in celebrating the county’s past.”
The DCHS operates the Garst Museum and its mission is to collect, preserve, exhibit, study, and interpret materials relating to the history and culture of Darke County. This year’s Heritage Award recipient, Dick Brown, has a lifelong history of helping preserve and connect people with the history of Darke County and Greenville.
Did you graduate from Greenville High School (GHS)? If so, you know the name of Dick Brown is synonymous with the GHS Alumni Association. As president since 2004, Dick is instrumental in keeping the history of the school alive. Dick’s continuing efforts range from writing its newsletter, sharing the school’s rich history, and keeping track of all the GHS alumni obituaries. He creates lasting memories with senior class images and years of class composite photographs via spiral-bound notebooks. Dick provides these to the classes and to Garst Museum’s Research Center where they are used frequently by those wishing to learn more about their family’s history.
Nancy Stump, a researcher at Garst’s Research Center, commented, “I don’t know what we’d do without him. He’s one heck of a nice guy. He’s priceless.”
For anyone who has gone to GHS’s homecoming or prom, Dick photographs everyone and provides, at no charge, a copy of the images. He also photographs every class reunion and gives all members of the class copies as well.
Stump noted, “At our 60th class reunion, he took all the photos and came back two hours later and delivered them.”
For all the GHS alumni, Dick is responsible for organizing the annual Alumni Association gathering in May. He exhibits numerous tri-fold boards with class photos and information at the event and then personally stores them from year to year. Over the years, Dick has spent countless volunteer hours assisting the high school and its students. His latest project is working on putting the Greenville High School history on kiosks at GHS.
Dick’s parents, Pete and Kay Brown, were instrumental in their support and growth of Garst Museum. Dick started serving on the Darke County Historical Society’s board in 1990 while his father was president. Dick became vice president in 1996. Prior to coming on the DCHS’s board, Dick served on the Building Committee for Garst and helped with the planning of the Pioneer Wing in 1992. Dick continued to serve as vice president for nearly 20 years and was recognized as an emeritus director at the recent DCHS Annual Membership Meeting.
Karen Besecker, a researcher at the Garst Research Center and classmate of Dick’s since kindergarten, stated, “He’s had so many interests and been involved here [at the museum] so long and always been humble and kind.”
She recalls Dick visiting the Research Center every week (then called the Genealogy Room) with his daughters Brandy and Betsy, both budding gymnasts. Toni Seiler, the then-director, would give the girls suckers after they would do cartwheels and somersaults down the hallway.
When Dick’s focus is not on GHS, it is on the City of Greenville or Darke County. Over the years, Dick has always voluntarily shared his local history passion with the Garst Museum, its Research Center, and the Darke County community.
The Darke County Historical Society, Garst Museum, is deeply indebted to Dick for his continued support in so many ways.
Dr. Johnson said, “Dick’s distinguished lifelong commitment to the community exemplifies the traits of the Heritage Award. It was an honor to present the award to such a deserving individual.”